Monday, October 23, 2023
There are a number of sources of the phrase, "once around the park and home," according to the Urban Dictionary.1 I prefer to think it comes from an old Tony Bennett song: Please Driver (Once Around the Park Again).2 The song is sung from the point of view of a man who has been dumped and is longing for his usual company around the park. As Bennett says, "The trees tonight are snowy white. We drove around like this till dawn last New Years Eve."3 But let's be clear: driving around a park is a loop, you are not going to get anywhere new driving in circles, but you will take in the view.
Just now, I met with a student who came in to chat about their (ungraded) property midterm and wanted me to take a look before the peer review occurred in the next property class. Luckily there was a grading rubric and a copy of the question for me to follow along with-it has been a good long while since I took property. As I looked over what the professor was looking for and what the student had produced, I saw a large gap. The student had essentially spotted the issues and came to a correct (per the rubric) conclusion about each one but had not (with maybe two exceptions) mentioned any law or used the facts they were given to reach the conclusions. They explained that they were only hoping to get the "correct answer" to each question. I gently pointed out that instead of IRAC, they had used IC-and that was only because I gave them credit for stating an issue because they had resolved it. On the rubric, 2 points were to each I, R, and C per question, but there were 4-6 points assigned for the analysis-and rightfully so. Based on what I saw, they had scored badly.
They were adamant that they knew the material. I agreed that it was more an output rather than input issue (putting law in students' heads is a different thing altogether), but unlike undergraduate exams (and ironically more like 7th grade geometry), they needed to show their work. On the one hand, I could see (but not really assume) that the student understood the class because they reached the correct conclusion, however, since all of our 1L exams are graded anonymously, their property professor would just be surprised entering the poor exam grade and could not know whose exam it was until that moment. On the other hand, it would be a shame to get an unsatisfactory grade on the exam despite knowing the material. It was a question of showing the work, contextualizing the conclusions by analyzing fact and law together, and just taking a minute to slow down and admire the scenery of IRAC as a format.
I showed the student the picture below (I took it this morning on the way to a haircut) and asked if they had ever taken a drive to look at the foliage (it is a very New England thing to do) and they said they had. I asked them where did you end up when you did that? What was your final destination? They couldn't recall but agreed that the drive was worthwhile. I made my "teachable moment noise"-which I can only assume is extremely annoying but unavoidable (sorry-not sorry). I told them that this is mainly the idea of law school essay exams: you need to state the route (issue), take the best road (rule), and look for the reasons you have taken the trip (analysis). And where you end up is not nearly as important as the road you took and what you saw along the way (the good and the bad). Getting from point A to point B without taking a detour into the rule and analysis is efficient but will leave you at point C (as a grade).
In other words, the "correct answer" is the journey.
- Urban Dictionary: Home James
- 1954 HITS ARCHIVE: Please Driver (Once Around The Park Again) - Tony Bennett - YouTube,
- Id. I mean who does not love Tony Bennett?